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Milk in the Upper Midwest Marketing Area; Interim Order Amending the Order

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Interim final rule.

SUMMARY:

This order amends certain features of the pooling standards and transportation credit provisions of the Upper Midwest (UMW) milk marketing order on an interim basis. More than the required number of producers in the UMW marketing area have approved the issuance of the interim order as amended.

DATES:

Effective July 1, 2005.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gino M. Tosi, Marketing Specialist, Stop 0231, Room 2971, USDA/AMS/Dairy Programs, Order Formulation and Enforcement Branch, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-0231, (202) 690-1366, e-mail address: gino.tosi@usda.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Specifically, this decision amends the UMW order by: (1) Revising the supply plant performance standards so that milk seeking to be pooled on the order demonstrates consistent service to the Class I market; (2) preventing handlers located within the States that comprise the UMW marketing area from qualifying milk located outside of the States that comprise the marketing area; (3) eliminating diversions to nonpool plants outside of the States that comprise the UMW marketing area; and (4) establishing a limit of the receipt by handlers of a transportation credit to milk movements of 400 miles or less.

This administrative rule is governed by the provisions of sections 556 and 557 of title 5 of the United States Code and, therefore, is excluded from the requirements of Executive Order 12866.

This interim rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This rule is not intended to have a retroactive effect. This rule will not preempt any State or local laws, regulations, or policies, unless they present an irreconcilable conflict with this rule.

The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (the Act), as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), provides that administrative proceedings must be exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under Section 608c(15)(A) of the Act, any handler subject to an order may request modification or exemption from such order by filing with the Department of Agriculture (Department) a petition stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance with the law. A handler is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on the petition. After a hearing, the Department would rule on the petition. The Act provides that the District Court of the United States in any district in which the handler is an inhabitant, or has its principal place of business, has jurisdiction in equity to review the Department's ruling on the petition, provided a bill in equity is filed not later than 20 days after the date of the entry of the ruling.

Small Business Consideration

In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), the Agricultural Marketing Service has considered the economic impact of this action on small entities and has certified that this interim rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. For the purpose of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a dairy farm is considered a “small business” if it has an annual gross revenue of less than $750,000, and a dairy products manufacturer is a “small business” if it has fewer than 500 employees.

For the purposes of determining which dairy farms are “small businesses,” the $750,000 per year criterion was used to establish a production guideline of 500,000 pounds per month. Although this guideline does not factor in additional monies that may be received by dairy producers, it should be an inclusive standard for most “small” dairy farmers. For purposes of determining a handler's size, if the plant is part of a larger company operating multiple plants that collectively exceed the 500-employee limit, the plant will be considered a large business even if the local plant has fewer than 500 employees.

During August 2004, the month during which the hearing occurred, there were 15,608 dairy producers pooled on, and 60 handlers regulated by, the UMW order. Approximately 15,082 producers, or 97 percent, were considered small businesses based on the above criteria. On the processing side, approximately 49 handlers, or 82 percent, were considered small businesses.

The adoption of the proposed pooling standards serves to revise established criteria that determines those producers, producer milk, and plants that have a reasonable association with, and are consistently serving the fluid needs of, the UMW milk marketing area. Criteria for pooling are established on the basis of performance levels that are considered adequate to meet the Class I fluid needs and, by doing so, determine those producers who are eligible to share in the revenue that arises from the classified pricing of milk. Criteria for pooling are established without regard to the size of any dairy industry organization or entity. The established criteria are applied in an identical fashion to both large and small businesses and do not have any different economic impact on small entities as opposed to large entities. The criteria established for transportation credits is also identically applied to both large and small businesses and do not have any different economic impact on small entities. Therefore, the proposed amendments will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Prior documents in this proceeding:

Notice of Hearing: Issued June 16, 2004; published June 23, 2004 (69 FR 34963).

Notice of Hearing Delay: Issued July 14, 2004; published July 21, 2004 (69 FR 43538). Start Printed Page 31322

Tentative Partial Decision: Issued April 8, 2005; published April 14, 2005 (70 FR 19709).

Findings and Determinations

The findings and determinations hereinafter set forth supplement those that were made when the UMW order was first issued and when it was amended. The previous findings and determinations are hereby ratified and confirmed, except where they may conflict with those set forth herein.

The following findings are hereby made with respect to the UMW order:

(a) Findings upon the basis of the hearing record. Pursuant to the provisions of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, as amended (7 U.S.C. 601-674), and the applicable rules of practice and procedure governing the formulation of marketing agreements and marketing orders (7 CFR part 900), a public hearing was held upon certain proposed amendments to the tentative marketing agreement and to the order regulating the handling of milk in the UMW marketing area.

Upon the basis of the evidence introduced at such hearing and the record thereof it is found that:

(1) The UMW order, as hereby amended on an interim basis, and all of the terms and conditions thereof, will tend to effectuate the declared policy of the Act;

(2) The parity prices of milk, as determined pursuant to section 2 of the Act, are not reasonable in view of the price of feeds, available supplies of feeds, and other economic conditions which affect market supply and demand for milk in the marketing area, and the minimum prices specified in the order, as hereby amended on an interim basis, are such prices as will reflect the aforesaid factors, insure a sufficient quantity of pure and wholesome milk, and be in the public interest; and

(3) The UMW order, as hereby amended on an interim basis, regulates the handling of milk in the same manner as, and is applicable only to persons in the respective classes of industrial and commercial activity specified in, a marketing agreement upon which a hearing has been held.

(b) Additional Findings. It is necessary and in the public interest to make these interim amendments to the UMW order effective July 1, 2005. Any delay beyond that date would tend to disrupt the orderly marketing of milk in the aforesaid marketing area.

The interim amendments to this order are known to handlers. The final decision containing the proposed amendments to this order was issued on April 8, 2005.

The changes that result from these interim amendments will not require extensive preparation or substantial alteration in the method of operation for handlers. In view of the foregoing, it is hereby found and determined that good cause exists for making these interim order amendments effective on July 1, 2005.

(c) Determinations. It is hereby determined that:

(1) The refusal or failure of handlers (excluding cooperative associations specified in Section 8c(9) of the Act) of more than 50 percent of the milk, which is marketed within the specified marketing area, to sign a proposed marketing agreement, tends to prevent the effectuation of the declared policy of the Act;

(2) The issuance of this interim order amending the UMW order is the only practical means pursuant to the declared policy of the Act of advancing the interests of producers as defined in the order as hereby amended;

(3) The issuance of the interim order amending the UMW order is favored by at least two-thirds of the producers who were engaged in the production of milk for sale in the marketing area.

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List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 1030

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Order Relative to Handling

It is therefore ordered, that on and after the effective date hereof, the handling of milk in the UMW marketing area shall be in conformity to and in compliance with the terms and conditions of the order, as amended, and as hereby further amended on an interim basis, as follows:

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The authority citation for

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 601-674.

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PART 1030—MILK IN THE UPPER MIDWEST MARKETING AREA

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1. In § 1030.7, paragraph (c)(2) is revised to read as follows:

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Pool plant.
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(c) * * *

(2) The operator of a supply plant located within the States of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan may include as qualifying shipments under this paragraph milk delivered directly from producers' farms pursuant to §§ 1000.9(c) or 1030.13(c) to plants described in paragraphs (a), (b) and (e) of this section. Handlers may not use shipments pursuant to § 1000.9(c) or § 1030.13(c) to qualify plants located outside the area described above.

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2. In § 1030.13, paragraph (d) introductory text is revised to read as follows:

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Producer milk.
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(d) Diverted by the operator of a pool plant or a cooperative association described in § 1000.9(c) to a nonpool plant located in the States of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, subject to the following conditions:

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3. In § 1030.55, paragraph (a)(2) is revised to read as follows:

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Transportation credits and assembly credits.

(a) * * *

(2) Multiply the hundredweight of milk eligible for the credit by .28 cents times the number of miles, not to exceed 400 miles, between the transferor plant and the transferee plant;

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Dated: May 26, 2005.

Kenneth C. Clayton,

Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 05-10835 Filed 5-31-05; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P